Swaziland, or better known as the Kingdom of Swaziland is a tiny little country, with only 1.16 million people and borders Mpumalanga in the north and west, KwaZulu Natal in the south and Mozambique in the east. They say it is a country with a big heart and warm, friendly people – which I would agree with as you are greeted with big smiles throughout the country.However, what I have experienced in certain parts of the country is an immaturity in the hospitality industry compared internationally.
The country has three Big Game Parks – Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and then Mkhaya Game Reserve. I did not have the opportunity to see Mkhaya Game Reserve, but the feedback I received was that it is spectacular if you love the bush. They have black & white rhino, four of the Big 5 (unfortunately no lion) and you can stay over or just pop in for the day to do a game drive and have lunch. Apparently the birding is phenomenal as well and this park is known as the ‘Home of the Narina Trogan”.
Then Hlane Royal National Park has two camps in the reserve, of which one is delightfully rustic with no electricity,but lanterns are lit up to guide your way in the evening. I fell asleep with lions roaring throughout the night, while the little night jar tried its best to compete… Only in Africa! They are busy building a self-catering unit and if you are passing through Swaziland and want an adventure, I would definitely recommend at Hlane for a night.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary was one of my personal favourites, not because of the game, but more for the Beehive Village experience and the amazing Chubeka Trails. There is just something incredibleabout being in the bush on horsebackfeeling the wind through your hair, riding past zebras, wildebeest, impala, stopping to view the crocodiles lounging in the river, andending the afternoon at the bottom of a little ‘koppie’ (an Afrikaans word meaning hill). You feed the horses, say good night and head up the hill, to be greeted at the top by your chef, who has already started to prepare dinner. You spend the night, partially under the stars, as you are sleeping in a cave. This is truly a nature-lovers dream and I can highly recommend it. The only thing you need to know is that you will not shower that night and you will only return to the main lodge the next day, to freshen up before you head off to your next adventure.
I thought about how to sum up Swaziland, as it is a country full of history, culture and tradition -It is currently not a game viewing destination, however the scenery does take your breath away, and whether you stand on top of the Lebombo Mountains or glide through the Malolotja valley on your canopy tour…there is definitely something to Swaziland’s charm.